School lockdown discussed at UCF meeting

An incident that caused a lockdown at Unionville High School Friday — but was later deemed not a credible threat — remains under investigation. The middle school was also placed on lockdown because of the incident. Superintendent of Schools John Sanville gave a brief update on the incident during Monday’s Unionville-Chadds Ford School District School Board work session conducted virtually.

Details remain thin, but a written threat was found in a bathroom at the school, which led to the lockdown followed by an early dismissal after police gave the OK to end the lockdown.

Sanville said the threat was written on a bathroom stall but did not reveal what was written.

“Once the threat was made known to us, we immediately called the state police and the East Marlborough Township police. They responded and conducted an investigation interviewing students, interviewing staff members, reviewing videotape to find out who was responsible,” Sanville said. “That continues to be an open and ongoing investigation. We are hopeful that it will be brought to a successful conclusion shortly.”

He went on to thank teachers and administrators at both schools for helping keep students calm during the 2.5-hour lockdown, and how he has heard from parents who said their children felt safe during the stressful ordeal.

“That’s not easy to do to create that caring atmosphere for a long period of time. I really thank the staff for the way they handled that,” Sanville said.

During the public comment period in the meeting, one parent from Birmingham Township called in to praise the response of his son’s teacher for keeping students in that classroom feeling safe and secure.

Still later in the session, Director Jennifer Brown took time to remind people that, despite the false nature of this threat, other threats in other schools have been real, and that students, teachers, and administrators need to be able to spot signs of a troubled youth.

According to Brown, “In the vast majority of school shootings, and suicides, they’re planned for at least six months, and at least one other person knew about it before it happened.”

She called for a “community of upstanders” able to take things seriously where students can say something to a trusted adult, follow the program of See Something Say Something, or use the app Safe2Say Something.

Safe2Say Something is a violence prevention program run by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office. There’s an app that allows for anonymous reporting of safety concerns and teaches students and teachers how to recognize warning signs and signals in others.

Brown also mentioned another program called Start with Hello. Brown explained that the program teaches teens how to be more socially inclusive, so others don’t feel so isolated.

“We needed this before the pandemic but, don’t we need it now! .., If you see someone alone, reach out and help, and start with ‘hello.’”

She also reminded people that the school district does have the Say Something reporting system available.

More information and access to the app can be found at https://www.safe2saypa.org

 

 

 

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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